Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Alec Crichton, Eremozoikum, 2007

Crichton's collaborative website featuring numerous contemporary artists.

German video artist, Alec Crichton, creates mesmerizing and mind-stimulating videos that reflect his artist statement claiming, “Art is challenging, inspiring, unfamiliar, and relevant” (Crichton, artist website). While also an inventive artist as he has spearheaded the creation of one of the first international Cable TV station (Souvenirs from Earth) broadcasting artist’s video, he holds a curator position for this TV station as well. Reading the TV station’s information, they offer a 24hr broadcast to distribute artistic videos in the technology-saturated. They also hone in on the fact that the TV station is a public space for anyone to enter into the messages of these different video artists. Also, his videos can be downloaded and watched fo free on itunes, supporting the public involvement in interacting with his films. Crichton received his masters at the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne, Germany where he is from. Crichton’s videos explore the realms of visual poetry, surrealism and truth.
In one of his films, Eremozoikum (2007), different documentations and shots of a mountain landscape observe the living land before the camera’s view. The video opens with a shot looking through a branch and some weeds, we see a valley in the blurred background, and the sounds of a rooster of some kind resonate as well as the songs of the bird. Then, the camera shifts to the mountains as fog undulates and lifts through the valley as we hear the eerie howl of the wind through the landscape. As one watches the film, the anticipation begins to build with the unexpected cries of the wind rushing through the valley—this sound mixed with the constant bird songs create an odd tension. This natural scene looks and feels familiar to the viewer, but somehow the wind is not seen (the fog is barely moving and lifting) which gives the viewer an unsettling and anxious emotion.
As the video continues, the shot shifts to a panoramic view with the valley and hills and we see wisps of white cloud scatter the valley and slowly rise, the blue sky in the distance and the blurred blare of the what we take to be the sun is greatly overexposed. The continuing howl the wind haunts the sound of the video, but at this panoramic shot of the valley silence slowly creeps in heightening the unfamiliar tension. Then, a thundering noise (what sounds like a jet plane or thunder) slowly rises and the overexposed sun shines bright and the light takes up a majority of the shot. The video goes back to silence and the thunder returns even louder this time and the overexposure completely takes up the screen and immediately recedes back to normal. This odd manipulation of the video disrupts the natural observation the viewer strives to obtain during the video. There is an eerie sense of overwhelming loneliness throughout the video, an emptiness, but the viewer knows that is not true due to the sounds of nature heard. The word eremozoic refers to “the age of loneliness,” which correlates with the experiences of the video.
Crichton’s video captures the mystery of nature in a way that is familiar and universal to all human beings. The fact that we can understand certain inner-functioning’s of nature continues to dissatisfy the reigning mysteries that are continually discovered in nature. Humans relationship to nature is one that is unavoidable, constant and mysterious and Crichton’s video visually portrays these truths by simply shooting different shots of natural scenes with acute nature sounds accompanying the visual. The manipulation with the overexposed sun brings viewers into a place of questioning and unknown territory about nature’s functions, which is what fascinates Crichton as an artist.

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